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Puppy Proofing Basics

Puppy Proofing Basics

The day has finally arrived! Your new bundle of fur is coming home! And now the preparation begins. As a responsible dog owner, you will need to provide a safe environment for this little puppy. Preparing your home and yard for a new family member is similar to doing so for a curious toddler you want to eliminate all dangers. Your pup will want to investigate every electrical cord, every closet, and every rut in the yard, and he/she won’t distinguish between your favourite pair of shoes and his/her chew toy. It’s up to you to make sure your puppy (and your stuff!) will be safe from those puppy temptations. So days before your puppy comes home, walk through your house from room to room (don't forget the garage and yard and balcony if you have one), keeping an eye out for possible hazards. 

Puppy Proof Your Kitchen

The kitchen contains all sorts of interesting drawers, cabinets, and cords, not to mention smells and tastes. If he/she can get into a cabinet or drawer, your puppy will explore everything inside. Childproof latches, which can be found at your local hardware store, prevent curious pups from investigating while keeping potentially dangerous foods and cleaning supplies out of reach. Power cords look like fun chew toys to a teething puppy. Tucking them out of reach, blocking them, or enclosing them in a chew-proof PVC tube will divert your dog’s attention. Another area of concern is food prep. Be quick to clean messes left on countertops and floor as your pup will surely gobble it up in no time.

Puppy Proof Your Bathroom

The bathroom can be a dangerous place for a puppy, too. Razors, pills, cotton swabs, and soap left within your puppy’s reach can be easily ingested — which can mean an emergency visit to your veterinarian. Family members need to be conscientious about cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom. Put shampoos, soap, tissues, and accessories out of reach or inside a cabinet or drawer. Especially while your pup is young, keep the toilet lid down at all times, or keep the bathroom door closed. In addition, use a trash can with a locking lid or stash it under the sink. Also, install childproof latches on the drawers and cabinets, and be sure to tuck dangling cords away, out of your pup’s reach.

Puppy Proof Your Bedroom

Dogs are scent-oriented, so they gravitate toward anything that smells like you. Shoes, slippers, and clothing will quickly become toys if you don’t safeguard such items behind a closed closet door. Keep clothing picked up, store shoes out of reach, and put laundry in a tall, closed hamper. Store jewelry, hair ties, coins, and other small ingestible items in containers or drawers, and secure any exposed cords or wires. Pretty much anything you do not want your pup to chee on needs to be put away. Many puppies and dogs like to den under the bed or wedge themselves behind furniture, so put up temporary blockades to prevent your puppy from hiding where he/she shouldn’t. Perfumes, aftershave, and other similar items contain ethanol, a toxic ingredient for canines. Keep these products on an out-of-reach shelf or behind closed doors.

Puppy Proof Your Living Areas

Whether a living room or family room, these cozy gathering places often have pillows, shoes, magazines, iPads (with the last one i personally learned my lesson! Who would have thought a puppy could completely savage a brand new kids' iPad?!-well a very expensive lesson learned)— all kinds of things that could tempt a curious and teething puppy. Stay vigilant about straightening up and putting away clutter, especially in those areas where you and your family spend the most time. Put loose items away, stow pillows and blankets in decorative bins, and keep cords and wires out of puppy’s reach. Houseplants are another area you need to pay close attention to as you get your living or dining room ready for a puppy. Many plants are toxic to dogs and will need to be moved to a secure location or possibly re-homed. Even dog-safe plants will be a temptation for them to dig in the soil, leaving a big mess for you to clean.

Puppy Proof Your Office

Your puppy may be drawn by all sorts of temptations in your office: papers, magazines, cords, wires, paperclips, rubber bands, and staples. These items may be fun to play with, but they can be fatal if chewed or swallowed. As with the rest of the house, pick up strewn office supplies, secure or enclose cords and wires, and keep decorative items well out of your pup’s reach. Keep plants on a shelf or counter if possible. If not, consider putting them in a spare room and keeping the door closed until your furry friend has graduated from his curious puppy stage.

Puppy Proof Your Garage and Yard

When you look around your garage and yard, you’ll see many obvious and not-so-obvious dangers to your puppy. Paint, cleaners, insecticides, rat and rodent poison, snail poison, fertilizers, antifreeze, and gasoline represent a handful of toxins and chemicals that you may have in your garage or outdoor shed. Antifreeze, for example, has a sweet taste that attracts animals, but it can be deadly if ingested, even in small amounts. Secure all bottles, boxes, and containers of these substances inside a locked cabinet, or store them on high shelves that your pup can’t reach. Your best course of action may be to make sure your pup is never allowed in the garage. Store tools and power equipment in a cabinet or shelf that the puppy cannot reach. These items can be a temptation for chewing and ruining their effectiveness. Some plants, such as daffodils, foxglove, bird-of-paradise, and lupine, can be poisonous to your dog and cause varied reactions, ranging from a rash to vomiting and diarrhea. You can find a list of the most ccommonly encountered toxic plants on the SPCA’s website at  You can also follow SPCA guidelines for poisoning prevention and first signs and symptoms of intoxication and poisoning here

Better Safe than Sorry!

By taking some time to puppy-proof your house (and keep it puppy-proofed!), you’ll give your new pet a good start with his new family. As he/she gets older, passes through his/her developmental phases, and learns basic obedience and manners, you won’t need to be so vigilant with your pick-up routine. Until then, however, it’s better to be safe than sorry! You can find many puppy safety items to purchase to make this process easier for you. Most times, simply moving objects out of reach or to another room with the door closed will solve most safety concerns. 

Here are a few questions from new puppy owners that I get asked the most 👇

👉How Do I Puppy Proof Electrical Cords?

Depending on your pup, simply tucking and hiding cords behind or under furniture will work just fine. Attach cords with zip-ties to the legs of tables or desks. Another option is to run cables under rugs or along with door frames and attach them with clips to keep them in place. Be mindful of wrapping up excess cords and binding with a cord winder. For smaller or persistent puppies, there are braided wire cord keepers.

👉 How Do I Block my Bed So My Puppy Doesn’t Get Stuck Under it?

The most effective way to stop the dog from going under beds is positive reinforcement to correct the behavior. Offer a treat when you call him out from underneath. Of course, you can stuff items under that are secure enough that your pup cannot move them. There are various blockade products on the market to choose from if you want to go that route.

👉What if My Dog Ingests Pills?

It’s essential to keep all your medications and pills in a safe place, but it’s understandable that sometimes accidents happen or sometimes puppies are persistent. The most dangerous medicines your furry friend could swallow are aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, Xanax, Ambien, beta-blockers, Adderall, and ACE inhibitors. Call your veterinarian or poison control right away if you’re suspicious that a pill was ingested.

👉Should I Lock My Trash Can?

Dogs have a strong sense of smell, and the kitchen trash can has all sorts of enticing scents that draw them to investigate. Spoiled food, plastic containers, bones, and other potentially hazardous items threaten to injure or cause serious illnesses. Boredom, hunger, anxiety, or straight-up good-smelling food waste will entice your pup in the kitchen. Some pet owners have their wastebasket stored under a kitchen sink with a lock on the door. Choose the best option for your home that will keep your furry family member safe.

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